Tonight, my Phinney Ridge neighborhood was dark at 4:30. I snapped on Olive’s leash and walked through the rain to Cafe Vita, grabbed a coffee and criss-crossed the street to dog-friendly Phinney Books.
A few days ago the violence around the world short circuited my brain. Sadness, fear, worry and so many, many words consumed the weekend and continue to shed light on the atrocities in Paris, Belgium, Beirut and Syria. CNN news, the New York Times, NPR. Words to describe me? Horrified. Nauseous. Shocked. Numb.
I pulled the heavy glass door to the bookstore open, coffee balanced in one hand, Olive scenting out snacks and the biscuit jar. I headed straight to the back of the store where the shelves are knee-high. The children’s book section is a secret weapon of mine: let your eyes wander over the titles and colors, the simple and complex illustrations, the small books, large books, soft books, hard books and the innocence and simplification is calming and infectious.
A Tower of Giraffes by Anna Wright was perched over the toy basket. Three wide-lashed, curious giraffes serenely peered out at me from the cover. The title and each page is a playful take on collective nouns — terms that describe a group of individuals such as animals or people.
How about A Romp of Otters? A Parcel of Penguins?
How about a collective noun to describe the people of Paris and Beirut tonight?
I do not proclaim to know what it is like to be caught in the crossfire of terrorism, guns, bloodshed, to be victim of such awful, senseless violence. But collectively — those Parisians that ran to help others bleeding under cafe tables, who pulled friends out of the music hall doorway, the kids that lay down and protected strangers, the volunteer first responders, the citizens that opened their doors to the stranded, the Lebanese that pulled off their shirts to staunch blood and save limbs, who threw themselves on the suicide bombers? You are,
A Force of Fortitude.
Bundles of Bravery.
Cities of Heart.
I pray for peace and understanding, for recovery and solace.